The Camry has been America’s top-selling car for 11 straight years, but recent new cars from Honda, Ford, Nissan and others have chipped into its lead. Carter said it’s important to Toyota that the Camry remain No. 1.
“The midsize sedan market is the largest segment in the industry, and we want Toyota to be America’s favorite car — period,” he said at the J.P. Morgan Auto Conference.
Carter conceded that Toyota has raised discounts on the car in an effort to keep sales strong amid intense competition but said most other automakers offer even higher incentives.
Camry sales grew 16%last month to more than 242,000 for the first seven months of the year. The increase widened Camry’s lead over the Accord to more than 24,000. The third-place Altima was 45,000 behind Camry, while Ford’s Fusion was fourth, nearly 61,000 below Camry.
Carter also told the analysts that the stylish and larger all-new Corolla compact will hit showrooms around Labor Day. An eco version will get 42 miles per gallon on the highway, more than the first-generation Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid. The first Prius, which came out for the 2001 model year, got 41 mpg on the highway.
The Corolla, he said, started Toyota’s reputation for sterling reliability, and the company has sold more than 40 million worldwide. He even poked fun at the current boxy version, which was last updated five years ago and looks old compared with the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.
“Out of those 40 million people, no one ever bought a Corolla because they thought they looked good driving it,” Carter said. “That changes at the end of the month with the new Corolla.”
The new car has more interior room than early-generation Camrys, including more back-seat legroom than the current model, Carter said. It also sits lower and has a wider stance for a more athletic look.
Carter also said Toyota plans to have fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid versions of every model it sells in the 2020s. The company plans a hybrid with electric and hydrogen fuel cell motors in 2015.
For more information on the Camry, or to take a look at any Toyota vehicle, contact Toyota of Tacoma.